On Sunday, March 13, 2016, Dr. Bashar Al-Assad joined with his Russian counterpart in a telephonic discussion concerning agreements made prior to September 30, 2015, the date when Russia started sending aircraft and support personnel to Syria in order to ramp up the pressure on the Saudi-American-NATO-supported terrorist cannibals. Since that time, given stunning sea-changes in the military situation, the Russian Federation made the decision that it was time to pull out of Syria to leave that country to finish up the war against terrorism and Wahhabist interventionism. It is believed in Moscow that the mission has been largely accomplished. To Dr. Assad, it was a virtual declaration of victory in Syria.
To correct some misconceptions, it is important to establish certain facts on the ground. First of all, the Russian Air Force is not – I repeat, not – withdrawing completely from Syria. The redeployment of forces is going to happen in a phased fashion just as the deployment, itself, took place. Remember, Russia has a well-earned lease on the harbor facilities in Tartous and the newly built airbase at Humaymeem, just south of Latakia. These bases require maintenance and continuous use by Russian technicians and soldiers/sailors.
So, what were the changes on the ground that motivated the Russians to discuss such a withdrawal with Dr. Assad?
1. The withdrawal is not “sudden”, as some propaganda sources suggest in embarrassingly naïve terms. Just as the deployment was well-studied by the Russian Defense Ministry, the withdrawal was also planned down to each painful detail. Russia never had any interest in occupying Syria or involving itself in a protracted war similar to the one in Afghanistan which resulted in the only military defeat Russia has endured since the rise of the Ottoman Empire. The United States, on the other hand, has sustained numerous body blows and knockouts including the Korean Peninsula, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, to name but a few. The Vietnam War lasted close to 8 years and the Afghan War is going into its 13th. It is obvious the Russians have learned from history while the Americans have not.
2. The Russian intervention was at the request of the Syrian government. Russia did not impose itself on Syria and the deployment was not an occupation. As I have written before, the Syrian government, particularly this one, ruled by the Ba’ath Party, was loath to seek the assistance of any foreign power or tolerate foreign boots on Syrian territory. It is an axiom of Arab nationalism that true freedom for the peoples of the Arab World engenders total freedom from the presence of foreign forces. Therefore, as I wrote in an essay a year ago, in SyrPer, Dr. Assad waited until he was certain he needed Russian assistance to turn the tide in favor of the Syrian Army. The Russians, for their part, had to wait, with their plans in hand, for the Syrian leader to open the door for such intervention. When he did, their ducks were all in a row.
3. The Russians also had an exit strategy. Military men who are subject to the mercurial temperaments of civilian leaders inevitably demand an exit strategy, a prized asset whenever a political leader has seen no combat. George Bush, father of G.W. Bush, had such a strategy, to wit: get out once Saddam was removed from Kuwait. Generals Schwarzkopf and Powell both were quick to advise the president against lingering in Iraq just to oust Saddam. Of course, President Bush fought in WWII and knew what the generals were talking about. On the other hand, George W. Bush, his son, had no such experience which led to the repulsive and inhuman demolition of Iraqi society, infrastructure and culture by American and British monsters, not to mention the prolonged occupation of the country. They called it “Shock and Awe”.
Imbeciles don’t grow on trees. They are nurtured by a flawed electoral system.
The Russians, on the other hand, were there for a singular purpose, and once that was accomplished to Dr. Assad’s satisfaction, they were eager to get out. The purpose of Russian intervention was to put the Syrian Army on a winning track. That has been accomplished quite substantially. It is also worth mentioning that any doubts about the morale of the army in Syria had to be dispelled through the process of energizing its capabilities and demonstrating its ability to absorb new tactics and weapons systems.
4. The enemies of Syria were becoming increasingly desperate. The enemies are well known to all readers. But, let’s evaluate where they’re at now in the aftermath of President Putin’s decision to draw down Russian forces.
a. The Saudis, most responsible for encouraging terrorism through financing the most vicious and nihilistic groups like ISIS, Jaysh Al-Islam and Alqaeda, were deeply involved in a fiasco of their own making in Yemen. Even though there have been negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi insurgents, it is painfully clear that Saudi Arabia has had to swallow the bitterest of all pills – a humiliating military defeat at the hands of the Arab World’s most pitifully poor country. Broke, needing financial assistance from banks, the Saudis have had to greatly reduce their own social programs and salaries for terrorists in both Iraq and Syria. The Russians now believe that the Saudis cannot present a real threat to Syria any more.
But, even more excruciating is the American position as enunciated by Barack Obama recently in an interview with Atlantic Monthly. It is unprecedented for a sitting American president to vilify the Saudis, describing them as “free riders”. This is a clear shift in American policy toward the reactionary and tyrannical regime in Riyadh. It’s a message to the Saudis that: “If you persist in fomenting destabilization in your region, don’t expect us to come to the rescue”. Put another way, the U.S. is telling their former allies: “If you don’t change the way you interact with your neighbors, maybe its time for change in Riyadh.”
The Saudis have no takers for the coalition they envisaged would overthrow Dr. Assad in Damascus. Their joint military maneuvers on the Iraqi border were a complete failure as evinced by the memorandum we translated for our readers revealing the deep misgivings of the highest ranking military officers in the kingdom with regard to the Syrian portfolio. Not only were the maneuvers useless, they pointed to a glaring lacuna in the entire “strategy” they concocted with cynical Neo-Cons in Washington: what do you do when Assad is overthrown? Who do you have to take his place? And even worse, what do you do if the entire plan results in a regional war with Iran and its allies – a war of sects all committed to mutual annihilation?
No. Saudi Arabia is now out of the picture. This is proven by the fact that “Jaysh Al-Islam” is negotiating in Geneva, knowing fully well that Dr. Assad has no intention of leaving office without an electoral defeat. This group is so tight with the Saudis that it is impossible to see it outside the scope of Saudi influence. The Saudis have come to accept Dr. Assad – like it or not.
b. The Qataris don’t need much treatment here. Their efforts to unseat Dr. Assad were a complete failure. It is possible that their phased-out role in the Syrian crisis is a reflection of Prince Tameem’s realization that his country is truly the size of a little thumb sticking into an Iranian cannon and that, maybe, all the hoopla about the Iranian gas pipeline isn’t worth a ticket to their imaginary World Cup extravaganza.
c. Erdoghan’s Turkey is rocking and reeling from a typical misstep after reneging on promises to expand the range of Kurdish activity in Syria, Iraq and, most importantly, southeastern Anatolia. Erdoghan, as the Russians see it, cannot invade Syria for the simple reason that his Parliament would not approve of it, and, his generals, almost all of whom have never seen combat, are predictably opposed to any scenario which might result in indictments for war crimes. The generals who have the combat experience, languished for years in prison on order of Erdoghan, but were exonerated in appeals before the ever-anti-Erdoghan Supreme Court. These generals, like Ilkert Basbug, would love to hang Erdoghan with concertina wire. The Ergenekon kangaroo trials still resonate with many Turks.
We are sure the generals have told the Sultan of Ankara that the Russians have in place anti-aircraft weapons capable of shooting down a whole laundry list of Turkish aircraft. Add to that the fact that Syria deploys S-300s and the advanced Pantsir systems. It doesn’t seem the Turks are intent upon any new adventures, their hands now full with a rejuvenated PKK, allied with the PYG, which is allied with the Syrian Army.
The explosion in Ankara a few days ago is an harbinger of much more to come. And its not just the PKK which Erdoghan has to worry about, it’s also ISIS, which, if my sources are veridical, is now viewing its former Turkish ally and progenitor, as a backstabber. Don’t be surprised if you find out that the entire focus of the Turkish military is the PKK and ISIS – Dr. Assad playing a distant walk-on cameo role in an otherwise atrocious Saudi production. Erdoghan can count on nobody for his war against Syria.
d. NATO countries have lost interest in Syria. While France’s Hollande continues to cajole the Saudis, if anything for what money they have left, he has seen his fortunes diminish radically. A recent poll taken in France showed his approval rating at a dismal 19% with his Socialist colleagues imploring him not to run, ever again, for office. The French spies formerly stationed in North Lebanon are gone and the French government has been left repeating the same tired mantras about Dr. Assad having no future in Syria. The only French aircraft carrier sits idly in the Persian Gulf.
Britain, whose policies will be shaped by the United States, has, evidently, turned around a bit with Cameron and his coterie of supplicants rarely mumbling anything about Dr. Assad’s place in Syria’s political life. Their air force has carried out a paltry few raids against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the U.K.’s military doesn’t seem to have the heart to go on playing Cameron’s neo-imperialist game, many of them, now retired, coming out in public to support the Assad government.
Forget the Germans and the Belgians. The German Shpionschiffe is back in dry dock. All European countries today have one thing in mind: how to stop the flow of refugees, terrorists and economic opportunity frauds from hitting the beaches of Europe. This one factor, alone, has brought to the occidental mind the calamitous consequences of its fascination with “regime change”. The Libyan fiasco was bad enough – French and British sunbathing in the spotlight of rank disaster after a country, which boasted the highest standard of living of any nation in Africa, was razed to the ground by self-declared well-meaning genocidal freaks from Old Europe whose accomplishment was nothing less than immersing that country in an existential war with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. But, Syria – oh, man – that was an even more metastatic disaster with millions of refugees, who once lived comfortably and securely in their ordered nation, massing like penguins in Turkish camps, only to be rudely evicted by a vindictive Erdoghan, their routes pre-planned for them by the Justice and Development Party, rickety boats included to insure maximum empathy and coverage in the compromised Western Press. The Russians are aware of Europe’s predicament and the Kremlin knows that the capitals in the West have no stomach for more catastrophes. In fact, Sergei Lavrov’s recent diplomatic high-speed shuffle garnered assurances that the Europeans had no further interest in overthrowing anybody.
e. The United States. This president got to office by proclaiming his opposition to the Iraq War. He was right, for once. Obama does not relish being a wartime president and eschews invitations from allies to join in their ruinous foreign wars. He has said so much about Libya and Cameron. He has ridiculed the Saudis openly for their “free rides”. He has no stomach for any more foreign inveiglements, especially those built on sectarian rivalries like the ones floated by the Saudis – attack Syria – reject Iran – support terrorists – get on board and bomb the Syrian Army – let’s start WWIII – who cares if Assad didn’t really use Sarin gas – Shi’is are apostates. The Saudis have become the cloying archetypal door-to-door salesman who won’t quit until he is insulted publicly or arrested by police for harassment.
While I distrust American politicians, I do believe Obama is motivated by self-interest. For Obama, the question is: do I go to WWIII for Syria? No, of course not. Do I want to help the Saudis to ratchet up the anti-Shi’i rhetoric to the point that the Nuclear Accord would be put into jeopardy? Do I want to strengthen ISIS and Alqaeda just to please a tribe of Pre-Iron Age troglodytes who don’t let women drive cars, or travel freely; and who don’t allow Christians to build churches on their holy sands, and a million other demonic rituals like beheading respected Shi’i clerics just to rankle the Iranians; executing minors; fighting a war in Yemen despite American advice to the contrary. It doesn’t stop there.
It’s not just the malodorous qualities of the Saudis – it’s that we don’t need their oil, and, if the truth be told, the United States is not going to continue to protect the profligate “royal” pedophiles when that is the obligation of those countries who do need Saudi or Gulf oil – Japan, France, all Europe and some parts of Asia. The free rides have go to stop.
Vladimir Putin spoke to Obama around the time he announced the partial draw-down of Russian forces in Syria. He would never have pulled his troops out if he did not have assurances that the U.S. would step back from the policies of the Neo-Cons and, apparently, Kerry. He received those assurances and was told that the U.S. was only interested in defeating ISIS and setting up a transitional government in Syria through a democratic process. This was enough for Putin who knew Dr. Assad would win any election hands down.
f. The Syrian “opposition” still has almost no control over ISIS or Nusra/Alqaeda. But, they were told by the Russians, what James Baker told the Palestinians, to wit: the train stops here only once, and if you don’t get on it, it’s not coming back. Amazingly, the Saudi-created “Jaysh Al-Islam” is there to negotiate the removal of Dr. Assad. The Syrian government has told them to go fish. But, amazingly, the talks are continuing, as is that miraculous cease-fire which the Russians engineered with the help of the feckless John Kerry. Today, the opposition had better get on the train – and they know it.
Is Putin withdrawing forces to pressure Dr. Assad to play ball with the opposition?
This is the position taken by many Western anti-Assad propagandists. They would like to think that Putin is abandoning Assad. They dream of such an absurdity. At SyrPer, we see it as just the opposite. Putin is telling the enemies of Syria that if they want to see Russia leave and stay out, they had better negotiate in good faith. This action of pulling out many Russian assets was a not-too-subtle message to the gangsters and pimps among the opposition that their only hope for peace in their country was to discuss its future with the legitimate government. Anything else would be political suicide. The Saudis had no choice but accept these terms, hence, the presence of the war criminal, Muhammad ‘Alloosh, who is Saudi Arabia’s point man in Geneva. The Saudis, more than anyone else, should take to heart the fact that as this war continues, our rage against the monkey regime in Riyadh only intensifies.
What have the Russians told the world by their phased withdrawal?
Russia is not an imperialistic nation. It does not seek to impose its power over Syria by occupying it and pulling the strings of puppets who rule it in name only.
Russia is cognizant of its legal obligations under the Charter of the U.N. Notice, Russia only intervened in Syria after Dr. Assad requested assistance.
Russia has an exit strategy whose implementation occurred only after fundamental objectives were achieved. Those objectives have been defined as a strengthening of the Syrian Army; closure of most supply routes to the terrorists with the Syrian military now responsible for the closure of the rest; degrading the capabilities of ISIS and Alqaeda in Syria; establishment of powerful forward bases for the Russian military in the event they are needed again in Syria. Of note is that the Russian Air Force destroyed over 4,000 high quality terrorist targets in 6 months!
Russia has also announced to the world that a great military force now exists in the Syrian Arab Republic. It is armed with the best Russian equipment. Whether it’s in the air with improved MiG 29s or on the ground with the newest T-90 tanks, the SAA now fields a force of over 340,000 soldiers, backed by a Popular Defense force of over 150,00 militiamen and thousands of other groups, including Hizbollah – all capable – eminently capable – of crushing any army that comes their way.
And for those of you who regret the Russian withdrawal, remember the words of the poet, Ibn ‘Unayn, who in his panegyric to the King, Al-Kaamil, warring with the Crusaders, summed up Vladimir Putin’s admonishment to all those who would return to the battlefield:
وقد عرفت اسيافنا ورقابهم مواقعها فيها فأِن عاودوا عدنا
NEWS AND COMMENT:
I don’t agree with much in this article, but, it’s food for thought: